News / Europe

Critics Challenge New Internet Controls in Turkey

Dorian Jones

Turkey already bans more websites than any other European country. Now the government is set to introduce new controls that officials say are needed to protect children. Critics fear they represent an effort control the web.

The Turkish government calls its new Internet controls Safe Use of the Internet. They are scheduled to take effect in August and will require all Internet users to choose from one of four filter profiles operated by their server provider.  Law Professor Yamman Akdeniz at Bilgi University in Istanbul says the measures open the door to government censorship of the Internet.

"We are concerned that the government [will] enforce and develop a censorship infrastructure," said Akdeniz. "Even the standard profile is a filter system and the problem is government mandated, government controlled and there are no other countries within the EU or Council of Europe that has a similar system. And the decision also states if anyone who tries to circumvent the system, further action may be taken."

Government officials say the new regulations are needed to protect families, particularly children, from pornography.  But critics say it is unclear which websites can be banned and for what reasons, and the regulations can also be used to silence political websites.  Nadire Mater is the head of the Turkish human-rights web page Bianet.

"Depending on the government, depending on the ministers, one can be put on the blacklist," said Mater. "This is not a democracy.  We've experienced this before, because police, from time to time, they distributed these blacklists, and in some Internet cafes or companies we were getting the complaints from the visitors they were saying  that we don't have any access [to] Bianet."

Bianet criticizes the government for establishing the new measures by decree, rather than by a vote in parliament and is challenging the new controls in court.  Web freedom is a concern within the European Union, which Turkey is seeking to join.  EU enlargement commissioner Stefan Fule stressed those concerns before the EU parliament earlier this year.

"Freedom of press means guaranteeing a public space for free debate, including on the Internet," said Fule. "The European Parliament's draft resolution rightly underlines these issues."

That concern centers on Turkey's record of courts banning more websites than any other European country.  In 2009, the state stopped releasing figures, but the latest number is believed to be in excess of 12,000. Again, Professor Akdeniz.

"Several thousands web sites have been blocked," said Akdeniz. "And although the government claims that they predominantly block access to pornographic websites, several hundred alternative-media websites, especially websites dealing with the Kurdish debate, are blocked access to for political reasons."

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

Video Scientists Say We Need Softer Robots

Today’s robots are mostly hard, rigid machines, with sharp edges and forceful movements, but researchers at Carnegie Mellon University say they should be softer and therefore safer More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs